Cray Wanderers – In Memoriam – George Taylor.

All at Cray Wanderers are saddened to learn of the passing of George Taylor at the age of 103.  George had been unwell for the last few months and passed away on 9th July.

The story of George Taylor became a very recent phenomenon in the world of football as in March 2020 was signed as a Cray Wanderers goalkeeper at the age of 100 years old and Sky Sports covered the story to much acclaim.

The actual footballing story begins around Easter 1938. Cray Wanderers signed George as a goalkeeper not yet 18 for a trip to Aylesford Paper Mills on 16th April 1938 and two days later made his home debut in a rare win that season against Sheppey United.  George played the remaining games of the 1937-38 season which was rather traumatic and the Wands finished bottom of the table.  He began the 1938-39 season with Cray now in the Kent Amateur League West at home to Northfleet Amateurs which the Wands lost 10-0.  Despite this thrashing, the performance of George not just in this game but in two matches towards the end of the previous season had alerted Northfleet who were Tottenham Hotspur’s nursery side and joined them shortly after.  Playing in goal for Northfleet Amateurs was the legendary Ted Ditchburn who went on to play for Spurs and part of their League Championship winning side of 1950-51 and England international.

Alas George broke his leg shortly after arriving at Northfleet and the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 meant he joined the RAF as a Navigator and aside from playing for the RAF team (pictured) never returned to Northfleet.   George was part of 106 Squadron Bomber Command who would drop leaflets to civilians but his plane was brought down just off the East Anglian coast and was rescued by the Lowestoft Lifeboat. Thankfully he and his crew were helped to shore.

He remained in the RAF as a flight mechanic and remained in the services until 1946 then going into work retiring at the age of 63.

The modern story of George began in late 2019/early 2020 when the Churchwarden of All Saints Church in Foots Cray, Sally Schepke contacted Cray Wanderers to let us know that one of their parishioners, George would shortly be turning 100 years old and one of the things he wanted to do before he passes away is kick a ball for Cray Wanderers again. Apparently he also wanted to throw darts and bowl a cricket ball but it was the Wands and in particular Sam Wright who initiated contact after verifying with club historians, Jerry Dowlen and Peter Goringe that he did play for the Wands that came up trumps.

So a few weeks after his 100th birthday due to a cold snap, he was not only the guest of honour for the Wands home league game with Merstham on 1st March 2020 he was also signed as a squad member and given a shirt with no 100 on the back.  Sam had put the word around to broadcast media and Sky Sports News brought a film crew to Hayes Lane and presenter Mark McAdam and his piece which went live close to an hour before kick off then went viral and still remains one of the more remarkable sports news bulletins of all time.  Cray also won the game 3-1 to make it a great day.


Sam remained in contact with George and the great man turned 103 this year.  It is unheard of in this day and age to combine such two vastly different eras and media packaged product to which George made his debut so together but through his desire to kick a ball for Cray again and Sam for making it happen meant we now can now link the modern Wands with a player who had played 85 years ago and so many people know about it.

We send our condolences to the family of George and those that looked after him in his later years and to George for enjoying life and his love of Cray Wanderers.